Mundy unveils package of bills to mitigate gas drilling health, environmental risks
HARRISBURG, June 21 – Joined by residents and environmental organizations concerned with potential health and environmental hazards associated with natural gas drilling, state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Luzerne, today unveiled a package of legislation she is introducing to help protect public safety and monitor the fast-growing industry.
"As a representative of the people and longtime advocate for the environment, I am deeply concerned about the potential for harm from drilling and the hydraulic fracturing process," Mundy said. "While I certainly recognize the benefits that Marcellus Shale drilling is bringing to landowners and to our local economy, I also recognize the threat of irreparable harm that it poses without appropriate legislative, regulatory and monetary safeguards in place."
Two measures in the package seek to protect public drinking water supplies. In the first, Mundy is seeking to amend current law to prohibit companies that use fracking or horizontal drilling from drilling wells within 2,500 feet of a primary source of supply for a community water system, such as a lake or reservoir. The current restriction is only 100 feet.
Mundy expressed concern over the potential of the water returned from hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," in which hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are used to cut through the rock, to pollute water sources. She noted horizontal drill wells put a great amount of resources at risk for contamination because they can run thousands of feet in length. The bill also would prohibit horizontal drilling from occurring underneath those sources of water, a key component of the legislation.
"Thousands of my constituents rely on Huntsville and Ceasetown reservoirs for drinking water. Contamination of one or both would equate to a serious public health crisis," Mundy said. "This bill seeks to protect our community water supplies to prevent such a disaster from taking place."
The second measure is a resolution urging Congress to pass the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act. The act would repeal a provision in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act that exempts oil and gas drilling industries from restrictions on hydraulic fracturing operations located near drinking water sources, a provision known as the "Halliburton Loophole." The FRAC Act would also require oil and gas industries to disclose all hydraulic fracturing chemicals and chemical constituents currently considered proprietary rights of the company.
The third piece of legislation Mundy is introducing would establish a one-year moratorium on the issuance of new natural gas drilling permits to give the General Assembly more time to enact appropriate protections into law and regulation.